Mark Watson
PhD Student
Department of Anthropology
University of Alberta, Canada


Photographs construct what they represent. The photographer is always already caught up in a process of 'framing', framing the moment and the subjects/objects photographed within that moment. For me, the guarded response by many to the use of manipulation techniques for photographs (especially within "academic circles") exists because such techniques disrupt the commonly held assumption that photographs reflect reality as it is. In these three photographs I explore the use of manipulation to offer meaning to the photographs; to present the consumer of the photograph with a narrative that I wish to weave through the image that I create.

The Day

This photograph was taken in 1998 in Komatsu, Ishikawa-ken, Japan. The photograph is of a parade of young children who had spent the entire year rehearsing for their roles as kabuki (traditional Japanese theatre) actors for street performances during the matsuri (festival). To be an actor is a privilege but extremely hard work, performing several times a day for several days. What I attempt to highlight in this image is the emptiness of the look on the child's face set against the child's grandmother who looks on admiringly. Cutting into the image fragments the child's expression and with it challenges the viewer of the photograph to consciously "read" the picture and draw meaning from it.